Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The dawn of the new year 2014

Moving forward, we might resolve to rethink our consumption habits in light of their potential impact on the world we live in.

When making decisions about product purchases consider:
• Where a product was made?
• How is a product made?
• How does it get from here to there?
• What goes in to the product?
• What happens to the product when I’m finished with it?

Product Stewardship involves minimizing health, safety, environmental and social impacts, and maximizing economic benefits of a product and its packaging throughout all lifecycle stages. The producer of the product has the greatest ability to minimize adverse impacts, but other stakeholders, such as suppliers, retailers, and consumers, also play a role. Product stewardship programs can take many forms and service types, from voluntary to mandatory, drop-off, retail take-back, or curbside collection. One key to successful product stewardship programs is sustainable funding for the proper management of products and packaging. Manufacturers pay for collecting, recycling, or appropriately disposing of their products at the end of their useful life. Retailers may serve as collection points for used or leftover products and distribute information to the consumer. Government has a limited role in product stewardship systems to ensure fairness (e.g. all manufacturers are subject to the same requirements), effectiveness (e.g. performance levels are achieved), and consumer protection, but the private sector has flexibility in program design and implementation. Consumers play a critical role by participating in collection or take-back programs. Recyclers assure that products are disassembled and recycled in a manner that does not harm workers or the environment. Product stewardship seeks to change the dynamic so that manufacturers have a direct financial incentive to reduce their use of toxic materials and end‐of‐life management costs and, where possible, create value in the supply chain through large‐scale recycling of recovered materials. Neglecting to recover and reuse products and packaging means energy and other natural resources are wasted in the extraction and production of virgin materials and the manufacture of new products.
As consumers we can take part in existing product stewardship programs for electronics, rechargeable batteries, mercury thermostats, and medications, promoting them to contractors, friends and family.

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